Recent news involving our students, faculty, and programs.
Gold Orchestra celebrates 25th anniversary with special recognition from Gov. Brownback
David Littrell's creation has been striking the right note for 25 years -- and that's something worth celebrating, according to the state's highest elected leader.
Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a proclamation making Thursday, Nov. 21, Gold Orchestra Day in the state of Kansas. The orchestra, founded in 1989 by Littrell, university distinguished professor of music at the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance in the College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State University, will celebrate its special day with a 25th anniversary concert at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21 in the university's McCain Auditorium. Also performing will be the Silver Orchestra, which is under direction of Kristin Mortenson, university instructor of music.
Admission to the concert is free and the public is invited.
Littrell founded the Gold Orchestra to give young string musicians in the Manhattan area an opportunity to perform and gain a love for classical music. The orchestra membership has expanded from its beginning with 10 students in the third through sixth grades. Today's three orchestras -- Gold Orchestra, Silver Orchestra and Bronze Training Orchestra -- have more than 80 string students in kindergarten through the 12th grades from all over northeast Kansas.
Since 1989, this auditioned ensemble has played a vital role in the lives of more than 400 youth musicians in Kansas. Along with annual performances at area schools, the Gold Orchestra also has performed at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall in New York and the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, as well as internationally in England, Mexico and in Canada. In summer 2014, the orchestra will perform in Stillwater and Oklahoma City, Okla.
The Nov. 21 concert will feature pieces by Telemann, Hovhaness, Copland, Grieg and others.
For more information on the orchestra, visit http://www.goldorchestra.org.
Geography professor publishes new book
By Jena Sauber
College of Arts & Sciences Communications Intern
Dr. Bimal Paul, professor of geography in the College of Arts & Sciences, will publish a second book, “Climate Change in Bangladesh: Confronting Impending Disasters,” on Nov. 16. The book looks at the climate change of Bangladesh from national and international lens, and is co-authored with Harun Rashid, emeritus professor in the department of geography and earth science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
According to Paul, the book “provides an essential interdisciplinary text on climate change and sea level rise in Bangladesh for undergraduate and graduate students of geography, environmental studies, sociology, anthropology, political science and others. Furthermore, it is an invaluable resource for managers and planners of the government of Bangladesh and several international agencies, including the United Nations.”
Paul has spent much of his professional career conducting climate change research in Bangladesh. He began compiling his work last spring for the newest book.
“It is nice that it can be used by many people. It is interdisciplinary and can be used as a text book or research resources,” Paul said.
The 252 page book will be available on Amazon starting Nov. 16. A review by Thomas Schmidlin of Kent State University praised the book as “…bring(ing) an entirely fresh perspective to climate change and the management of climatic disasters in Bangladesh. Their emphasis on coping strategies, indigenous adjustments, and management of disasters provides valuable guidance to disaster managers, NGOS, local politicians, and students. Anyone interested in how the developing world should cope with climatic disasters will find answers here.”
Paul graduated from Kent State University in 1988. He currently teaches four classes in the geography department, including Quantitative Methods in Geography, and Geography and Natural Hazards. He is also the director for K-State’s South Asia Center and editor of the Geographical Review, a publication of the American Geographical Society.
“He is the most published member of the faculty, and has been for many, many years. He’s a very well known scholar in the discipline of geography,” said Chuck Martin, department head and professor of geography.
This will be Paul’s second book. His first book, “Environmental Hazards and Disasters: Contexts, Perspectives and Management,” was published in October 2011.
“People in the discipline of geography know that Dr. Paul is an expert on South Asia. That brings recognition to the department, the College of Arts & Sciences, and K-State,” Martin said.
A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications recommended for reaccreditation
By Birgit Wassmuth
Director, A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications
The A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications in the College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State University has been recommended for reaccreditation by a site team from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.
The team visited the campus from Oct. 27-30. It found the school in compliance with all standards except one, assessment.
"This is a testament to the quality of the faculty and students in the school," said Peter Dorhout, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "This was welcome news given that we have just hired a new director and she had to hit the ground running. We could not have done this without the input from so many of the faculty and staff who contributed to the success of the programs."
Accreditation by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications is voluntary. Currently, about 110 journalism and mass communication programs are accredited in the U.S., and two programs abroad, in Chile and in Qatar.
Programs are evaluated on nine standards: mission, governance and administration; curriculum and instruction; diversity and inclusiveness; full-time and part-time faculty; scholarship: research, creative and professional activity; student services; resources, facilities and equipment; professional and public service; and assessment of learning outcomes. An accredited program is reviewed every six years.
The four-person site team included Pam Luecke, head of the journalism and mass communications department at Washington and Lee University; Casear Andrews, Leonard family distinguished professor of ethics and writing at the University of Nevada, Reno; Pat Rose, executive director, American Academy of Advertising; and John Paluszek, senior counsel at Ketchum New York.
After reviewing an extensive self-study report produced by the faculty of the A.Q. Miller School, the team members met and talked with the faculty, staff, students, Dorhout and April Mason, provost and senior vice president at Kansas State University, as well as other constituents from across campus. During their four-day visit, they looked for evidence of indicators listed and described in the self-study. The team was impressed by the faculty and found that their instruction is strong, engaged and up to date.
"We are very proud to have been recommended for reaccreditation. K-State's journalism and mass communication program has a long, rich history," said Birgit Wassmuth, director of the A.Q. Miller School. "Accreditation means a lot to us, our faculty, students and alumni. It is also a decision-making factor for prospective students who are looking for an outstanding program in advertising, journalism and digital media, public relations, or other areas we offer within the broad field of mass communication."
This recommendation for reaccreditation will be reviewed by the Accrediting Committee at its March 22, 2014, meeting in Chicago and by the Accrediting Council at its meeting May 2, 2014, in Arlington, Va., before it becomes final and official.
K-State First has opportunities for first-year students
A great college experience starts with a great first year. K-State First, the university’s first-year experience program offers a wide variety of opportunities specifically for first-year students that can set students on the path to academic success, degree attainment, and satisfaction in their careers and personal lives.
K-State First is dedicated to helping students transition into college successfully as a way to increase overall student success. To help with this transition, K-State First houses four programs specifically designed to connect first-year students with faculty in a way that promotes learning in the classroom and beyond. Those four programs are Connecting Across Topics (CAT) Communities, Guide to Personal Success (GPS), K-State Book Network (KSBN), and First Year Seminars (FYS). Through these programs students gain communication skills, critical thinking, community building, application of learning, and much more.
K-State First was founded in 2008 with 270 students and continues to serve more first-year students every year. This year is no exception with nearly 1,200 students participating in First-Year Seminars and CAT Communities, and 380 students participating in the Guide to Personal Success (GPS) mentoring program. Additionally, through the University's common reading program known as the K-State Book Network (KSBN), K-State First reaches over 3,800 first-year students.
The First-Year Seminar (FYS) program provides students with the chance to take small, interactive classes. In First-Year Seminars students get the opportunity to work closely with faculty to apply what they are learning. This spring, K-State First is offering 14 FYS classes, each taught by talented and enthusiastic instructors. All classes carry general education credit and meet the program of study requirements for most students and most majors.
First-year students and students new to K-State in the spring may enroll in one of these FYS classes. Students who have not yet taken a FYS class have top priority. All sections enroll by permission only. For most of these classes, permissions are easily obtained by contacting K-State First at email@example.com.
CAT Communities are learning communities designed to connect first-year students through common interests. In the fall semester a group of 22 students enroll in two general education courses and one connections course. Designed around student interests, CAT Communities offer mentoring from a professor and an advanced undergraduate Learning Assistant who share the students' interests. This fall, K-State First offered 16 CAT Communities. Examples include: The Art of Engineering, The Psychology of Prejudice, Understand the Weather, and Making the Ultimate Playlist: American Culture Revealed. Enrollment for CAT Communities takes place during the summer/early fall.
GPS, a first-year mentoring program, matches first-year students with a K-State professional or alum to provide a professional reference point for first-year students. GPS experienced record enrollment this year with over 380 mentees and 240 mentors. The GPS program hosts monthly Connect events that provide a fun and convenient way for mentors and mentees to connect over the semester, but mentor pairs are also encouraged to meet on their own time. Past Connect Events include the High Ropes at the K-State Challenge Course, a VIP K-State Basketball game, 80’s Trivia Night, and bowling at the Union. Students interested in signing up for a GPS mentor for the spring semester should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The K-State Book Network (KSBN) is an all university reading program that selects a common read for the academic year and coordinates exciting classroom and campus activities to correspond with the reading. All first-year students who attend June Orientation and Enrollment receive a copy of the book. This year’s common read was Ready Player One. KSBN sponsored an alternate-reality game and brought author Ernest Cline, to speak at McCain Auditorium. Books selected for previous years include The Hunger Games, Zeitoun, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
Do you know first-year students who would be interested in any of these programs? Please visit k-state.edu/first for more information or email email@example.com. Stay up-to-date on all current events by following us on Twitter @kstatefirst and liking our page (K-State First) on Facebook.
Invitation to American Ethnic Studies Open Summit on Nov. 6
You are invited to help plan the future directions of American ethnic studies with an open summit Wednesday, Nov. 6, to collect input on our strategic plan.
The summit will be 10 a.m. to noon in 112 Leasure Hall and will be led by Yolanda Broyles-Gonzalez, a university distinguished professor and an international scholar/leader in the discipline. She was hired as new full-time director of the program in 2013 following a national search. At the summit we will also introduce our new tenure-track professor Dwanna Robertson, who joined us this semester.
The faculty members and students of the program are engaging in strategic planning to create a forward-looking hiring and curricular enrichment plan as part of K-State 2025. Anticipated space needs are part of this plan as we collectively define a vision of the program.
Although there will be other opportunities for input and dialogue, this is an important beginning to our process. There are many changes in the program we would like to share with you. Please join us if your schedule allows.
Peter K. Dorhout, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
Yolanda Broyles-Gonzalez, head of American ethnic studies
Mathematics department head awarded Haimo Award for distinguished university teaching
By Jena Sauber
College of Arts & Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences would like to recognize Andrew Bennett, professor of mathematics and mathematics department head, for recently being awarded the Mathematical Association of America’s Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching.
The national award is given to three distinguished college or university teachers who exhibit effective teaching and positive influence.
“Mathematics, like many of our core quantitative programs, is a challenge point for a lot of K-State students,” said Peter Dorhout, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “It’s exciting and gratifying to know that we have faculty like Dr. Bennett who are recognized by their professional organizations for their contributions to teaching. The hallmark of a Top 50 university is to have faculty who are leading their disciplines, preparing our students to make a difference in the world.”
Bennett has been at K-State for 25 years, and was the inaugural director of the Math Department’s Center for Quantitative Education. His research focuses on effective use of technology and instruction in mathematics education.
Bennett was first nominated for the 2012 MAA Kansas Section Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching by Virginia Naibo, associate professor of mathematics at K-State.
"Andrew Bennett excels in the teaching of mathematics, in its broadest sense and at all levels: K-12, undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral. His achievements surpass the limits of the classroom and his ideas on the effective teaching of mathematics have had influence beyond Kansas State University,” Naibo said.
Winning the Kansas award nominated him for the national award, which he won.
"The national award was, wow. I was thrilled. I wasn't anticipating it," Bennett said
Bennett joins his younger brother, Curtis Bennett, as the second family member to receive the award. Curtis is a professor of mathematics and associate dean for faculty development and graduate studies at the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Andrew is glad to join his brother.
"Curtis very much deserved it," Andrew said. "It's nice to have someone to share this with."
Bennett will receive the award in January in Baltimore, Maryland. He will also be given the opportunity to give a speech on his research in the field.
"It's exciting to be able to share some of what I've learned with a broader audience than I usually do," Bennett said.
Bennett was appreciative of the award, and past opportunities.
"I am deeply indebted to my colleagues and students for the support I've gotten in developing my teaching," Bennett said.
Geography alumnus to receive award and present lecture on conservation challenges
Communication and Events Coordinator
College of Arts and Sciences
Jerry Holden Jr., director of conservation programs for Ducks Unlimited, Co. will be returning to his alma mater on Friday, Oct. 25 to receive the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the Geography Department in the College of Arts and Sciences. Preceding the awards presentation, Holden will deliver a speech titled, “Never waste a good crisis: Conservation challenges on America’s third coast.”
The event will be held in the K-State Student Union’s Little Theatre from 3:30-4:30 p.m. and is open to the entire campus to attend.
“The college is excited to have Jerry back on campus,” said Peter Dorhout, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “We strive to provide students the academic foundation that enables them to go into the world and make a difference, to solve global challenges.”
Holden joined Ducks Unlimited after earning his bachelor’s and master’s degree in geography in 1996 and 1998, respectively. Holden also earned a secondary major in natural resources and environmental sciences. Since becoming director of conservation programs, he has played a significant role in implementing plans for the organization’s conservation programs, leading restoration efforts for wetlands along the Louisiana Gulf Coast as part of the Wetland Reserve Program.
Holden said he is excited to return to his alma mater. “I want to show the students that you can make a difference if you try,” Holden said. “You just have to aim for it.”
“It's great to have Jerry back on campus to receive this prestigious award,” said Charles Martin, head of the K-State geography department. “In his career since leaving K-State, he has combined his expertise in remote sensing with his love of the outdoors to make significant contributions to the preservation of waterfowl habitat. His presentation will provide a shining example to our current students that a geography degree can take one in unexpected, but professionally rewarding, directions.”
Kent Babcock, senior director of conservation programs for Ducks Unlimited said Holden is a good example of the quality students graduating from K-State and the geography department.
“Jerry has combined his education and training with his passion for wetlands and waterfowl to establish a very productive career in conservation,” Babcock said. “His leadership skills have served him and Ducks Unlimited very well and brought credit to K-State. It is most fitting that he be recognized as a distinguished alumnus.”
Kirmser Hall dedication celebrates half-million dollar renovation
Seven years after the dream began, the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance in the College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State University is unveiling a newly remodeled Kirmser Hall and Fischer Stage in McCain Auditorium on Oct. 25 at 3:30 p.m. The dedication is open to the entire K-State and Manhattan community to attend.
The approximately half-million dollar renovation provides state-of-the-art technology and acoustics for students’ classroom and performance experiences.
“This is the first major construction project for the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance,” said Gary Mortenson, director of the school. “We hope this will serve as a spring board for major projects that will enhance the reputation of the school.”
The room, previously called McCain 204, is used for lectures, recitals and rehearsals. A major part of the renovation went toward making the room acoustically sound and versatile, Mortenson said.
“The new room is one of the most acoustically advanced areas on campus,” Mortenson said. “The clouds on the ceiling and acoustic treatments do very specific things to help the room function. I don’t know of too many places that have been designed that way in the whole country.”
”This new facility is an example of how a facility can impact each student’s experience,” said Peter Dorhout, College of Arts and Sciences dean. “Students should expect excellence in everything we do. That’s what Top 50 public research universities create for their students and faculty. To achieve our 2025 goals, we need to continue to invest in excellent facilities like Kirmser Hall. That’s how we prepare students to make a difference in the world.”
The renovations were funded in part by the late Philip and Jeune Kirmser. Phillip was a retired university faculty member.
“They were long time members of the Manhattan community and very passionate about the arts,” Mortenson said. “They’ve given to the community and university, and this gift was fantastic.”
The K-State College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office, and the Provost’s Office provided additional funding.
The hall’s stage was named after previous K-State professor William Fischer. Donations were gathered to fund the stage and dedicate it in honor of Fischer. His portrait will hang in the stage area.
Students started using the facility in early October. The ribbon cutting on Oct. 25 is the official kick-off event for the remodel and the dedication of the stage.
“It’s a celebration,” Mortenson said. “We hope that people who are potential donors will see how well we’ve done with the legacy of the Kirmsers, as well.”
The School of Music, Theatre, and Dance was granted school status in the summer of 2012. Approximately 500 students are enrolled in the major and minor programs. More than 1,200 students a week use Kirmser Hall.
The dedication ceremony is the school’s opportunity to officially welcome the K-State and Manhattan community into the newly remodeled space, Mortenson said.
“We want to celebrate the seven year wait, and the spectacular results,” Mortenson said. “It really exceeds all of our expectations, which is really fantastic.”
National Science Foundation grant supports undergraduate math research program
Two Kansas State University mathematicians in the College of Arts and Sciences have received a National Science Foundation grant to support three more years of the Summer Undergraduate Mathematics Research, or SUMaR, program.
Marianne Korten, principal investigator, and David Yetter, co-principal investigator — both professors of mathematics — have received the grant for more than $340,000 to support 12 undergraduate researchers each summer starting in 2014. The funding will cover eight weeks of stipend, housing, dining and travel expenses for these students. The grant is hosted by the Center for the Integration of Undergraduate, Graduate and Postdoctoral Research, or the I-Center.
"This renewal and program is aligned with the university's goal to increase undergraduate research," said Korten, who is director of the I-Center and of the SUMaR program. "It enables us to continue to offer our more than eleven years of experience in supervising undergraduate research to students from other universities for another three years."
Research Experiences for Undergraduates, known as REUs, provide opportunities for undergraduate students from colleges and universities across the U.S. to spend a portion of their summer at another university focusing on research.
Throughout the summer, students work with a faculty mentor on an original research project while attending graduate school panels and participating in professional development activities, such as learning to give presentations using math-typesetting software. The summer programs also include faculty talks, a math subject Graduate Record Exam Prep workshop and a panel about the National Science Foundation graduate fellowship opportunity.
A special feature of the mathematics undergraduate program and other REUs is that they target largely untapped populations — such as women, minorities, first-generation college students and students transferring from community colleges, Korten said.
"The summer research experiences grab undergraduate students and let them get a taste of what it is like to be a professional mathematician," Korten said. "It encourages them to become independent researchers."
In the past, the math summer program has involved 12 students each summer. One of the students is co-supported by the Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, or SUROP, which is a recruiting and undergraduate research program of the university's graduate school. One student was involved in the summer of 2013. The university also offers REU programs in several other disciplines, such as chemistry, climate change and mitigation in the Great Plains, sustainable energy, biology, physics and bioenergy.
"We make a point to mix the math REU students with other REU students," Korten said. "We think that makes them more likely to do interdisciplinary work in the future because they have learned to communicate with researchers in other disciplines."
"Congratulations to Professors Korten and Yetter for obtaining continued funding for the math REU summer program," said Beth Montelone, associate dean for research of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Our college has a strong tradition of undergraduate research supported by extramural grants and philanthropic gifts, and we have just initiated a collegewide program open to students from all disciplines that will be paid for with funds from the new college fee."
For more information about the Summer Undergraduate Mathematics Research program, visit the math REU website. Read more information about College of Arts and Sciences undergraduate research opportunities.
President and CEO of The Hershey Company to receive award and present “All Things Are Possible” lecture
By Jena Sauber
College of Arts and Sciences Communications Intern
J.P. Bilbrey, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Hershey Company and 1978 K-State alumnus, will return to his alma mater on Friday, Oct. 4 to receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Department of Psychological Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences and present his “All Things Are Possible” lecture.
The event includes an awards presentation and lecture at 9:30 a.m., immediately followed by a panel discussion until 11:20 a.m. in Bluemont Hall 101 and is open to the entire campus to attend.
“J. P. has truly distinguished himself among our alumni,” said Peter Dorhout, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “He has personally taken students from across K-State under his mentorship while serving as a CEO of a major corporation. He exemplifies our College 2025 strategic goal of preparing students to make a difference in the world.”
Bilbrey joined Hershey in 2003 after serving in leadership positions at Danone Waters of North America and Procter & Gamble. He serves on the board of directors of the Hershey Co. and McCormick & Co, and on the Grocery Manufacturers Association executive board. He is also a U.S. private sector member of the Obama’s Administration’s U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum.
Frieman encourages everyone to attend the lecture, especially undergraduate students in psychology and open option.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to listen to a major figure in the business world that is one of our own,” said Jerry Frieman, psychological sciences professor. “This is a person to look up to and admire. To hear him speak and ask him questions is a rare opportunity.”
There will be a question and answer session with Bilbrey following the lecture. There will also be graduate and undergraduate panel discussions with members of the Department of Psychological Sciences Alumni Advisor Council following the award presentation and speech.
Event Poster (PDF)
Ramm Selected as Research Ambassador for German Academic Exchange Service
By Tom Roesler
Communication and Events Coordinator
College of Arts and Sciences
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the German national agency for the support of international academic cooperation, announced Alexander Ramm, professor of mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State University, has been selected to serve as a DAAD Research Ambassador for the 2013/14 academic year.
“This is an outstanding recognition of Prof. Ramm’s accomplishments,” said Peter Dorhout, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “He will serve the students and faculty well as a liaison with this important international agency as we move towards our 2025 goals of developing international research initiatives and promote study abroad.”
DAAD Research Ambassadors help to inspire others to conduct research in Germany by working within their respective departments and serving as a resource to university offices. They are also available to answer questions from students and peers from beyond their geographic areas via email.
"Alex has been an outstanding research mentor and mathematician who has brought students from around the world to K-State to work with him," said Andrew Bennett, head of the mathematics department. "No one could be better at helping grow international cooperation in mathematical research."
This academic year, the Research Ambassador program is honoring 23 individuals who have conducted a long-term research project in Germany at the doctoral level or above. At the end of August, the 2013/14 Research Ambassadors participated in a two-day seminar addressing the latest developments in German higher education and research and the many generous funding programs available to North American scientists and academics interested in conducting research in Germany or initiating collaborative projects with German colleagues. They have now returned to their respective campuses, where they will serve as liaisons for DAAD in the US and Canada to promote research opportunities in Germany among their colleagues, peers and students.
"Research work is very important for me. Faculty and students interested in a study or doing research in Germany and being funded for this by DAAD can get the DAAD information brochures from me," Ramm said.
In his career, Ramm has authored more than 630 papers, published in mathematical, physical, and engineering journals, 14 monographs, and edited three books. He has been an invited speaker at more than 140 talks at various national and international conferences, and has been a visiting research professor at many universities throughout the world, including Germany, where he has served as a DAAD Research Professor, Mercator Professor, and Max Planck Institute visiting professor.
DAAD is the German national agency for the support of international academic cooperation. The DAAD offers programs and funding for students, faculty, researchers and others in higher education providing financial support to over 100,000 individuals per year. DAAD also represents the German higher education system abroad, promoting Germany as an academic and research destination and establishes ties among institutions around the world.
College of Arts and Sciences dean selected as American Chemical Society fellow
By Tom Roesler
Communication and Events Coordinator
College of Arts and Sciences
Peter Dorhout, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of chemistry at Kansas State University, has been selected as a 2013 American Chemical Society fellow and will be recognized at the society's upcoming fall national meeting in Indianapolis.
"This is an honor bestowed on members for their outstanding accomplishments in scientific research, education and public service," said Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, immediate past president of the American Chemical Society, or ACS, and host of the fall national meeting.
"Their individual contributions to ACS, to science, and to society are hallmarks of distinction in keeping with the society's mission of advancing the chemical enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people," Shakhashiri said. "Selection as an ACS fellow greatly honors each individual and also honors ACS. It is also a charge to each fellow to maintain their excellence in advancing chemistry and serving society."
The purpose of the society's fellows program is to recognize and honor its members for their outstanding leadership and achievements in and contributions to the science and the profession, as well as their equally exemplary service to the society. Dorhout was recognized for his leadership of the College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State University, the Graduate School at Colorado State University, his leadership in solid-state chemistry and his contributions to the American Chemical Society.
"It's a wonderful group to join," said Dorhout. "These are very distinguished chemists and chemical engineers who have made a difference in the discipline as well as in professional leadership. I'm honored to be among these great men and women in the ACS."
Dorhout became dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the university's largest college, in January 2012. He previously served as vice provost for graduate affairs and assistant vice president for research at Colorado State University, and most recently as interim provost for Colorado State University, Pueblo.
"One of the ways K-State will become a Top 50 public research university by 2025 is by having our faculty recognized as fellows in their academic societies," said Kirk Schulz, Kansas State University president. "The fact that the American Chemical Society has recognized Peter Dorhout's leadership as dean also elevates the renown of the College of Arts and Sciences."
Dorhout earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign and a doctorate in inorganic chemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Ames Laboratory at Iowa State University and a research collaborator with Los Alamos National Laboratory. His research specialties include thin film materials, environmental chemistry, and actinide and radiochemistry.
"Peter's selection as an American Chemical Society fellow recognizes his distinguished accomplishments in solid-state chemistry research; his leadership both at Colorado State University and at Kansas State; and his extensive service to the profession at a national level," said Eric Maatta, head of Kansas State University's department of chemistry. "This recognition brings great credit to the chemistry department, the college and the university."
Dorhout has received several national honors, including the Research Corporation Cottrell Scholar and Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar awards. He also has received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, American Chemical Society Exxon-Mobil Young Faculty Award for Materials Chemistry and was named an A.P. Sloan fellow. He has written more than 110 peer-reviewed articles, edited books and book chapters.
Women's studies faculty member awarded Big 12 Fellowship
Assistant professor Caroline Wa Tushabe has been awarded a Big 12 Fellowship to visit the University of Texas, Austin to share her research on historical and current constructions of homosexuality, and to develop an international conference and corresponding co-edited anthology on African sexualities.
Tushabe will present a portion of her research in a public forum open to the University of Texas campus community. Tushabe’s work explores the assumption that sexuality is a characteristic of all human beings and, indeed, has become a "fundamental aspect of individual identity" to the extent that it now defines a person's essence. Departing from this premise, she elaborates the imbrication of sexuality discourse in human rights language and how this language impacts colonized peoples whose sense of humanity has been erased by colonialism.
The presentation is part of Tushabe’s book, "Decolonizing Homosexuality in Uganda," which develops a decolonial methodology to understand the social, linguistic, legislative, moral and epistemic formations in indigenous Uganda resulting from the colonial construction of homosexuality since 1879 to present.
Tushabe and colleagues at the University of Texas also will plan an upcoming conference and resulting anthology, provisionally titled, "Local Voices and International Movements for Sexual Freedoms in Africa." The conference and anthology will examine the ongoing legislative proposals that recriminalize homosexuality in African postcolonial states. For instance, Uganda's parliament introduced Bill No. 18 in 2009, which criminalizes a person who knows about and does not report to the state police anyone who identifies as gay, lesbian or transgender. The bill seeks to institutionalize a death penalty for gays, lesbians and transgender people.
Nigeria, Senegal, Cameron, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Malawi have similar draconian laws.
Robertson selected as new American ethnic studies assistant professor
By Tom Roesler
Communications and Events Coordinator
College of Arts and Sciences
After a national search, which produced over 90 qualified applicants, the American ethnic studies program in the College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State University selected Dwanna Robertson as assistant professor starting in August 2013.
“Dwanna is a strong addition to the American ethnic studies department and to the broader campus-wide interests in inequality, food and hunger, racial and ethnic studies, and gender studies,” said Spencer Wood, former American ethnic studies interim director who was part of the search committee led by Wayne Goins, professor in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance. “We are thrilled to have Dwanna joining us in the program and the college.”
Robertson will be teaching courses in Native American Perspectives, Research Methods and Introduction to American Ethnic Studies this fall at K-State.
“I'm thrilled to join the K-State family,” Robertson said. “With its innovative and dedicated faculty, administration, and community of workers, K-State represents excellence in higher education.”
Robertson is a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, public sociologist, and columnist for Indian Country Today Media Network who comes to K-State from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she received a doctorate in sociology. She received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Central Oklahoma before earning a Master of Business Administration from East Tennessee State University in 2003 and a master’s degree in sociology from Oklahoma State University in 2010.
“I was born and raised in Oklahoma, so I've always known how wonderful the people are in Kansas,” said Robertson. “Kansas State's strong commitment to diversity impressed me. K-State is excited about teaching how it benefits not just the university, but our entire society.”
Robertson’s research focuses on the reproduction of social inequality, particularly for American Indians and other indigenous peoples. Robertson’s current project, “Navigating Indigenous Identity,” examines the problematic processes around American Indian identity and the consequences associated with different forms of identity representation—ethnic, racial, tribal and legal—for indigenous peoples in the United States. She has authored or co-authored pieces in American Indian Culture and Research Journal, European Sociological Review, Research in the Sociology of Work, and Oxford Encyclopedia of American Business, Labor, and Economic History.
“I'm excited about teaching Native American Perspectives this fall,” Robertson said. “When I visited this spring, I heard all about K-State's great students. I'm also looking forward to doing great research with some of those students.”
Broyles-González to Lead American Ethnic Studies Program
By Tom Roesler
Communications and Events Coordinator
College of Arts and Sciences
Yolanda Broyles-González has been selected to lead American ethnic studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State University. In addition, she has been named university distinguished professor, a lifetime title that is the highest honor the university can bestow its faculty.
"Dr. Broyles-González is a leader in ethnic studies research and education," said Peter Dorhout, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "We are looking forward to having her help guide our program to its next level of scholarship. These are exciting times for students and faculty in American ethnic studies and Yolanda will be a wonderful addition to our community."
Broyles-González comes to K-State from the University of Arizona where she was a professor of Mexican-American studies. Prior to Arizona, she was professor of Chicano studies and German studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
"Many very positive factors inform my decision to join Kansas State University," Broyles-González said. "Among the factors I find especially appealing are K-State's very positive work environment, the distinguished faculty, the administration’s strong commitment to excellence and diversity, the university's strong civic partnerships, and the appeal of the physical environment — the spectacular Konza Prairie, for example, at the intersection of two rivers."
Broyles-González studied at four German universities and was among the first women of color to receive a doctorate degree from Stanford University. As an undergraduate she attended the University of Arizona and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. She is a native of the Arizona/Sonora desert and a Yaqui Barrio Libre community elder.
The focal points of her research and teaching are popular culture, gender, oral tradition, Native American culture and the popular performance genres of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, of which she is a native. Among her most recent publications is the first academic study of the legendary singer and National Medal of Arts recipient Lydia Mendoza, titled "Lydia Mendoza’s Life in Music/La Historia de Lydia Mendoza." Broyles-González also recently published the book "Earth Wisdom: A California Chumash Woman."
"Professor Broyles-González is absolutely amazing," said Spencer Wood, interim director of American ethnic studies. "She has decades of experience and a fantastic record of scholarship. Her administrative experience is equally impressive. She has initiated or led multiple programs related to American ethnic studies at several prestigious universities in her career. It is hard to imagine a more qualified candidate. In a word, professor Broyles-González is fantastic."
Broyles-González replaces Juanita McGowan, who retired in 2012 after leading the American ethnic studies program since 1997. The American ethnic studies program at K-State is the only degree program of its kind in the state of Kansas and reaches between 600 to 800 students each year.
"I regard the commitment to strengthen American ethnic studies one expression of a strong overarching institutional commitment to intellectual and human inclusivity," Broyles-González said. "I greatly look forward to forming part of Kansas State University's visionary momentum."
Broyles-González is a recipient of the lifetime Distinguished Scholar Award from the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies. The award recognizes Broyles-González's multiple and invaluable scholarly contributions and her advocacy for the Chicana/o studies discipline. Other distinguished national and international awards have come from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation and the German Academic Exchange Service, which funded her research in Germany for five years.
Aistrup to lead College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University
Joseph Aistrup, associate dean of academic affairs for Kansas State University's College of Arts and Sciences, has been selected as the dean of Auburn University’s College of Liberal Arts. His appointment will begin Sept. 1.
Aistrup joined K-State in 2002, serving as head of K-State's department of political science from 2002-2009. He was appointed interim associate dean of the college in 2009 before being selected as the associate dean in 2011.
"Manhattan has been a wonderful home for me and my family," Aistrup said. "It has been an honor and privilege to serve the college's faculty and students over the years. We will truly miss our friends and colleagues but are also looking forward to this new opportunity and the challenges that lay ahead."
"Dr. Aistrup brings a wealth of experience as both an administrator and an educator," said Timothy Boosinger, Auburn University provost and vice president for academic affairs. "We look forward to his leadership of the College of Liberal Arts and its diverse programs and course offerings."
In his tenure as associate dean, Aistrup has been responsible for the college's curriculum planning and development, summer school coordination and academic program reviews. He also coordinated the college's faculty and alumni awards selection process. In 2011, Aistrup served as interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
"Joe has been a great member of the leadership team in the college," Dean Peter Dorhout said. "I have learned a lot from him since we started working together in the summer of 2011. He will be a great dean and leader for Auburn, and I will miss all his contributions."
As a political science professor, Aistrup specialized in Kansas politics, public policy and methodology.
"Joe served a successful term and a half as our department head and has contributed to the department in far too many ways to count," said Jeff Pickering, current political science department head. "He helped to push the department forward in a host of important ways, with the result being that his positive impact on K-State political science will be felt for many years."
At Auburn, Aistrup will lead a college comprised of two schools and 11 departments which are divided into the four academic areas of fine arts, humanities, communications and social sciences. The college has more than 4,200 students and 400 faculty and staff, and offers 39 undergraduate majors, 18 graduate programs and six professional certificates.
The College of Arts and Sciences will conduct a search for the associate dean of academic affairs position this fall.
Modern Language Department Head Elected to Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society
Members of K-State's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious academic honor society, have elected Salvador Oropesa as an honorary member. Oropesa is a professor of Spanish and head of the department of modern languages.
He was nominated for the honor based on his accomplishments in scholarship, service and teaching. He is the author of more than 40 articles, which have been published in prestigious academic journals like PMLA, Hispania, Chasqui and LARS. He also has written three books: "The Contemporáneos Group. Rewriting Mexico in the Thirties and Forties," "La novelística de Antonio Muñoz Molina: sociedad civil y literatura lúdica" and La obra de Ariel Dorfman: ficción y crítica." He also has book chapters published by Catholic University of America, Vanderbilt, Routledge and Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, and is co-editor of the three volume World Literature in Spanish: An Encyclopedia. And he recently submitted the book-length manuscript, "Literatura y comercio en España: las tiendas (1868-1952). Estudios culturales," to the university press of the Universidad de Málaga.
Active in his profession, Oropesa serves on the editorial boards of six journals and was the academic adviser to the K-State chapter of Sigma Delta Pi honorary society for six years. He has been recognized for his teaching with the William Stamey Award from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2011 and an outstanding scholar and instructor award from the university's chapter of Mortar Board in 2003.
A K-State faculty member since 1992, Oropesa was promoted to associate professor in 1996, named a full professor in 2003 and became head of the department of modern languages in 2012. He earned his undergraduate degree in Spanish philology from the Universidad de Granada and his doctorate in Spanish from the University of Arizona.
Gadbury selected to head statistics department
Gary Gadbury is the next statistics department head in the College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State University.
"Dr. Gadbury brings a unique perspective to the role," said Peter Dorhout, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "He has been a leader in building bridges and making critical connections across disciplines to bring statistics and statistical tools to bear on challenging global problems. His talents align well with the strategic plan for the statistics department and college."
Gadbury has been part of the K-State statistics department since 2007. He came from the Missouri University of Science and Technology where he was an associate professor in the department of mathematics and statistics. At K-State, Gadbury has been the co-director of the graduate program for the statistics department, along with teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, and research responsibilities.
Gadbury earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Southern Illinois University. After eight years with IBM, Gadbury returned to graduate school to earn a master's degree in applied mathematics from University of Colorado at Denver and a doctorate in statistics from Colorado State University. He has worked on research projects funded by National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, NASA and the Kansas Bioauthority.
"I am honored to follow a distinguished and effective line of leaders who have built and developed the statistics program at K-State for the past 50-plus years," Gadbury said.
Gadbury replaces James Neill, who has served as department head since December 2008. Neill will remain a faculty member with the statistics department with teaching and research interests.
"I am very pleased that Gary has accepted the offer to be the next head of the statistics department," Neill said. "He has been a strong contributor to the department, including teaching a wide range of graduate level classes, supervising several Ph.D. students, conducting a very successful interdisciplinary research program, and providing noteworthy service on many department committees and to the discipline more broadly."
The statistics department was founded in 1959 and offers bachelor's, master’s and doctoral degrees in statistics, producing a total of 369 master’s degrees and 157 doctorates. Former faculty and alumni include 16 fellows of the American Statistical Association, five recipients of the American Statistical Association Founders Award — the highest award given by the American Statistical Association, two past presidents of the association, and two executive director’s of the association, including Ronald L. Wasserstein, a 1987 doctoral alumnus, who currently holds that position.
"It is a great time to be a statistician and an even better time to be one at K-State," Gadbury said. "Statistics is a quintessential interdisciplinary science and its existence as a distinct profession is due to the many problems emerging from the sciences and in society that require quantitative solutions obtained from collected data. And the potential for growth in the statistics profession is only accelerating."
Along with the advances in the statistics profession, Gadbury also sees a strong connection to K-State 2025.
"Many opportunities for focused research expansion that were identified by the research themes committee as part of the K-State 2025 vision play to the strengths of a strong and vibrant statistics department," Gadbury said. "I see our statistics department being a key participant in the success of K-State 2025. I look forward to the excitement of serving as head of a department of talented statistical scientists as our program continues to grow and develop in the coming years."
For more information about the department of statistics, visit the website.
Bennett selected to head mathematics department
"Dr. Bennett has been a leader among faculty at K-State and has the critical skills we're looking for to guide this outstanding department towards its K-State 2025 goals," said Peter Dorhout, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Mathematics is a critical discipline for any Top 50 public research university and has been part of our land-grant heritage since the beginning."
Bennett joined the K-State mathematics department in 1988 and became a full professor in 2003. In 2006 he was named the inaugural director of the Center for Quantitative Education and has taught a wide range of classes in his career, ranging from Elementary Differential Equations to Foundations of Geometry. His research interests have led him to collaborate with faculty across the university, including the agriculture, education and engineering colleges. Bennett's research and educational efforts have raised more than $15 million in extramural funding.
"I am excited and honored by the confidence of my colleagues and the administration in leading the department in such exciting times," Bennett said. "All department stakeholders, faculty, students and administration, share a common vision in building a world-class department."
The mathematics department has seen exciting development in recent years. The number of students majoring in math has grown by more than 50 percent in the last decade; the Center of the Integration of Undergraduate, Graduate and Postdoctoral Research — known as the I-Center — supported nine undergraduate and four graduate scholars in the last year; and the Mirror Symmetry and Tropical Geometry Research Center — known as the M-Center — recently received its second Focused Research Group grant from the National Science Foundation in collaboration with four other universities, including the University of California-Berkeley and MIT.
Bennett earned a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Colorado State University before receiving his master's in mathematics from Princeton University. He went on to earn a doctorate in mathematics from Princeton in 1985.
"As we reach toward the goals of K-State 2025, it is essential that K-State have a strong mathematics program, both building new knowledge and helping develop students with strong quantitative skills to prepare them for the technological world of the 21st century," Bennett said. "The K-State mathematics department is well-poised to move forward with outstanding researchers and excellent teachers who care about student learning."
Bennett has received multiple teaching awards, including the Commerce Bank Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award and the Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching from the Kansas Section of the Mathematical Association of America.
Kempton selected to head geology department
Pamela Kempton will be the next geology department head in the College of Arts and Sciences. She will start her new job in September.
"Dr. Kempton’s unique blend of experiences in academic and national laboratory settings will help our students understand both the fundamental and applied aspects of geoscience," said Peter Dorhout, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Her history of leadership in research in areas that cut across traditional disciplines and interests will help the department meet its goals."
Kempton comes to K-State from the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council, the U.K. equivalent of the U.S. National Science Foundation, where she served as the interim director of science. The Natural Environment Research Council is the principle funder of earth and environmental science research in the U.K. In this role, she is responsible for delivery of the council’s funding for research through strategic research programs and responsive mode.
"I am very excited about the prospect of coming to K-State," Kempton said. "One of the things that particularly attracted me to the job was the university’s vision to be recognized as one of the Top 50 public research universities in the United States and the fact that the vision is backed up by a plan of action."
Kempton holds a doctorate in igneous petrology and a master's degree in sedimentology from Southern Methodist University. Her research career has focused on problems of mantle geodynamics, basalt petrogenesis, and evolution of the Earth’s lower crust and upper mantle. Following her doctorate, she worked at NASA, where she held a National Research Council postdoctoral fellowship. She moved to the U.K. in 1985 to take up a research fellowship at the Open University and later joined the Natural Environment Research Council Isotope Geosciences Laboratory as a senior research scientist, where she established the first Hf isotope laboratory in the U.K.
Through her science management roles, Kempton has worked closely with both the academic research community and the users of that research, particularly government departments in the U.K., Europe and the U.S. Collaborations with organizations like the U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.K. Department for International Development, led to establishment of cutting-edge research programs in strategic areas for the council such as Environment and Human Health, Environmental Nanoscience and Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation. The latter is a $65 million collaborative initiative that aims to deliver improved understanding of the way ecosystems function, the services they provide, and their relationship with the political economy and sustainable growth, so that ecosystems in developing countries can be managed both sustainably and in a way that contributes to poverty reduction.
"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to use my experience as both scientist and science manager as I work with other members of the geology department to contribute to the K-State 2025 vision," Kempton said. "One of my aims will be to grow the department, increasing the overall research capability as well as the number of graduate students. But we will want to do that in a sustainable way."
Kempton has held honorary research fellowships at Cardiff University and Birkbeck College, University of London. Currently, she serves as a member of the British Geology Survey Advisory Committee.
History Ph.D Student Awarded Boren Fellowship To Study in Russia
MANHATTAN -- A look into the past will give insight to the future, according to Kansas State University's newest David L. Boren Fellow.
Tony Demchak, doctoral student in history, Twinsburg, Ohio, has been awarded a 2013 David S. Boren Fellowship to explore archives in St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia, for 11 months. Reviewing the archives will give insight into how Russian and Soviet leaders made decisions in the past and how Russian leaders might make decisions today.
The Boren Fellowships provide up to $30,000 to U.S. graduate students to enhance their graduate education through international experience in their area of study and increase language proficiency. Funds for the fellowship are provided by the National Security Education Program, which focuses on geographic areas, languages and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security.
Demchak will be reviewing documents that have recently become declassified and only available in Russia. The documents are important to learning how Russian and Soviet Union naval decisions were made from 1905 to 1940, specifically importing foreign naval technologies.
"A lot of the records I want to consult aren't in the United States," Demchak said. "The best way to research Russian and Soviet Union naval history is to actually go to the country and consult their archives."
Following the completion of his degree, Demchak will complete one year of service to the U.S. government as part of the fellowship.
"It has to be something with national security, which is defense, state, homeland security or the intelligence community," he said. "For me this isn't even an obligation, it's an opportunity."
Demchak received his master's degree in Russian, Eurasian and East European studies in 2007 from the University of Illinois-Champaign and his bachelor's degree from the University of Dayton in Ohio in 2005. He is a graduate of Twinsburg High School and the son of Marilyn and Terry Demchak, Twinsburg, Ohio.
To learn more about competing for future Boren Fellowships or other scholarships while a student at Kansas State University, contact Jim Hohenbary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ivanov Receives Department of Energy Early Career Research Award
A Kansas State University physicist in the College of Arts and Sciences has received the prestigious Department of Energy Early Career Research Award for his collaborative research involving the Large Hadron Collider.
Andrew Ivanov, assistant professor of physics, has received the five-year $750,000 award for his proposal titled "Quest for a top quark partner and upgrade of the pixel detector readout chain at the CMS." His is one of 61 proposals chosen for funding from the 700 proposals submitted this year.
Ivanov is using data from the Large Hadron Collider to help solve fundamental problems in particle physics. The Higgs boson was recently discovered at the Large Hadron Collider and completes the table of fundamental particles predicted in the standard model of particle physics. But the standard model does not explain why the Higgs boson has the mass that is observed and any natural explanation predicts the existence of a partner of the top quark.
While the Higgs boson was predicted and scientists knew the kind of properties it would have, scientists do not know as much about the partner of the top quark.
"It is like searching for something in a dark room when we don't know what it should look like," Ivanov said. "We need to account for various possibilities."
Ivanov is searching for this partner particle by analyzing data from the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. He also is collaborating with researchers at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or Fermilab, near Chicago. Fermilab's computing center also receives data from the Large Hadron Collider, and Ivanov is narrowing down this data so he can analyze it at Kansas State University.
Ivanov's project also will improve the performance of the Compact Muon Solenoid Pixel Detector system by upgrading the data acquisition readout for future high energy and high luminosity physics runs at the Large Hadron Collider. Ivanov and engineers in the university's Electronics Design Laboratory are working on the electronics to improve the detector.
The research is important to help solve the hierarchy problem, which is one of the fundamental problems in particle physics. The research also will provide a better understanding of the universe and how it works.
"For practical purposes, the knowledge we gain today will be important for future generations," Ivanov said. "We may not be able to see all the benefits of this research in our lifetimes, but this kind of research may lead to new energy sources for future generations."
The Department of Energy's Early Career Award supports research in the areas of advanced scientific computing research, biological and environmental research, basic energy sciences, fusion energy sciences, high energy physics and nuclear physics.
Chemistry Ph.D Student Chosen For Nobel Laureate Conference
When it comes to inspiration, one Kansas State University graduate student will be receiving it from several of the greatest minds in the world.
Elizabeth Ploetz, a doctoral student in chemistry from Kansas City, Kan., has been chosen to participate in the 63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany. The meeting, which runs June 30 to July 5, pairs promising future researchers with the world's foremost experts in chemistry. She's Kansas State University's fourth Lindau Scholar.
Throughout the weeklong meeting, Ploetz will interact and network with 36 Nobel laureates and 624 undergraduate and graduate chemistry students. The students will attend various lectures and informal discussion by the Nobel laureates, who will discuss their work, the state of science and more, in an effort to inspire the young researchers.
"It's really humbling," Ploetz said. "I know it sounds trite, but hearing that the world's leading scholars who have made substantial contributions to the world are going to take time to inspire me and the other young participants makes me do a lot of soul-searching. It's difficult to believe that I really am going to be a part of this meeting and learn from Nobel laureates."
Ploetz was invited to participate in the meeting following a multistage, international selection process against thousands of young researchers.
"Elizabeth is the most tenacious student I have ever met," said Paul E. Smith, Kansas State University professor of chemistry and Ploetz's adviser. "She expects a great deal of her self and this drive results in her being able to absorb huge amounts of information covering a wide variety of topics. I believe it is her depth of knowledge, productivity and desire that made her such an attractive applicant."
Ploetz works with Smith on computational and theoretical chemistry. They use high-performance computers to simulate real-world systems. These simulations allow them to explore the systems in extraordinary detail by providing spatiotemporal resolution that often exceeds what is available from experiments.
Ploetz observes and calculates the trajectories of atoms and molecules in these digital experiments. She uses the results to explore how molecular-level interactions produce thermodynamic properties of specific systems and vice versa. Additionally, she and her group also have spent time working to refine the intermolecular interactions in their simulations so the results better align with experiments.
"For example, a computer doesn't know what a water molecule is or how it should interact with other molecules," Ploetz said. "The computer is only going to do what we tell it based on the information we give it. That can lead to some interesting but fictional results if the computer simulations don't account for reality. If the simulation does not reflect the real world, then nobody is benefiting from the results."
Ploetz has published her research in the scientific journals Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Journal of Chemical Physics, Proteins, Advances in Chemical Physics and Fluid Phase Equilibrium, and has co-authored a book chapter. She is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research fellow and was a National Science Foundation GK-12 fellow from 2010-2011.
Following graduation and postdoctoral research, Ploetz would like to become a professor and conduct research with biological applications.
Since 1951, Nobel laureates in chemistry, physics and physiology/medicine have annually convened in Lindau to meet with and inspire young researchers.
Ploetz is the fourth Kansas State University student selected to participate in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. Previous participants are Mark Smith, physics, in 2006; Jayne Christen, biochemistry, in 2009; and Nora Johnson, physics, in 2012.
Alumna, Adjunct Faculty Member Recognized By White House
On Wednesday, Olga Koper, a Kansas State University adjunct faculty member in the department of chemistry, was one of 11 people honored by the White House as an Immigrant Innovator Champions of Change.
The Washington, D.C., event highlighted immigrant innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world who are helping create jobs in America, grow the economy and increase innovation.
Koper was accompanied to the White House by Stefan Bossmann, professor of chemistry, who began collaborating with her in 2007.
Koper was born in Poland. She works in the business and open innovation group for Energy and Environment at Battelle Memorial Institute. The institute, based in Columbus, Ohio, is the largest nonprofit research organization in the world.
Koper's research focuses on using nanomaterials to improve the environment, energy and health. She has been awarded more than 30 U.S. and international patients for her findings.
She was recognized as one of seven Entrepreneurial Women to Watch by Entrepreneur Magazine in 2013, and was named Pipeline's Innovator of the Year in 2007.
Koper received her master's degree from the University of Silesia in Poland and her doctorate from Kansas State University.